In a world of Ana Steeles we need more Katniss Everdeens

In the lead-up to the premier of the film-adaptation-of-the-novel-based-on-online-fan-fiction that is 50 Shades of Grey, I’ve been reading a lot of opinion about what this book and its huge following mean for society.

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Ana Steele submits to an abusive sexual relationship in 50 Shades of Grey

As a disclaimer, I have never read the trilogy myself, I believe too strongly in good literature and BDSM just isn’t my thing, in light of which I can’t really comment on the merit of the prose or the structure of the story. What I can comment on is the fact that the story involves a young impressionable woman becoming involved in a relationship with a destructive young man who takes sexual pleasure in inflicting pain because of abuse in his childhood. That’s not a judgement call, that’s the story’s plot.

The thought that a book about a woman who submits to physical abuse out of fear she’ll lose her lover can be so record-breakingly popular causes a visceral reaction in me. It got me thinking about my female literary heroines, especially because I am busy reading the Divergent series which, though teen fiction and simply written, has a strong female lead who allows herself to be fearless and selfless for those she loves.

Tris Prior in the Divergent series (also now a motion picture) cuts a small but intimidating female figure

Tris Prior in the Divergent series (also now a motion picture) cuts a small but intimidating female figure

Comparatively, the first literary heroine that comes to my mind (besides Scarlett O’Hara, whom I adore as a pillar of feminine strength and idiocy) is Jane Eyre, who rejects the pursuit of the man she loves and turns instead to a possible life of poverty because she doesn’t want to live a compromised moral existence. Of course, she returns to him on her own terms, a wealthy woman who can love Rochester freely without compromising on what she believes to be right. Unlike Anastasia Steele

Bella Swan is another sulky weak female character

Bella Swan is another sulky weak female character, but she’s still a better role model than Ana

But of course 50 Shades of Grey is a modern “love story” based on fan-fiction that developed online as a response to the wildly popular Twilight series. While it gets a lot of flak, and the movies were poorly cast and cheesy, I still enjoyed reading those stories and I wasn’t overly offended by the somewhat conservative view of femininity portrayed in them (I mean, Bella is a pretty sad excuse for a female lead). Then I look to teen fantasy that has emerged since the Twilight phenomenon began, and I am met with Katniss Everdeen.

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I would make the argument that Katniss, while she may be emotionally unhinged at times in the story, is a far better role model for young women than Ana Steele could ever be. (Sure, totally biased opinion here, I stayed up all night to finish each book in the Hunger Games series). Katniss takes on the burden of providing for her family after her father’s death, and when sister Prim is impossibly selected as a tribute for the Hunger Games, Katniss doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice herself instead. She nurtures younger people around her, like companion Rue, and becomes a symbol for nationwide rebellion and ultimate freedom through her selfless actions. As Lorde’s song for the Mockingjay soundtrack croons “I’m a princess cut from marble, smoother than a storm. And the scars that mark my body, they’re silver and gold.” I would rather aspire to be this kind of woman, one who’s altruistic and generous actions speak volumes that changes lives over being chained up in the Red Room of Pain for the pleasure of a broken man.

A story of faith, hope and love

 

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People always ask me how I can read (and enjoy) a book after watching the movie. The fact is (and I think many will agree) is that the book is almost always better, and a lot of the time, I only find out that the movie is based on a book after watching it.

I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie Salmon fishing in the Yemen, but the book was an absolute delight. Carefully constructed as a series of journal entries, letters and interviews, it came across as far more realistic than the movie.

The story of boring Dr Alfred Jones and his sudden immersion into what many call a hair-brain scheme to introduce salmon fishing into an arid country is a powerful tale of what it means to believe. For a first time author, Paul Torday does an excellent job of exploring the themes of faith and belief in Western society. His travels and his insight into fishing clearly provided the inspiration for this story.

I found that the end (which is different to the movie) petered out a bit, and I was slightly disappointed but it was much more probable than the movie ending. This is definitely a must-read.

I paired this book with two wines. Although I’m not a fan of pink drinks, the Buitenverwachting Blanc de Noir was exactly as the name says: outside of my expectations for a pink wine. If you’re not into pink you can try the Klawer Chenin blanc with notes of honey and gooseberries.

My favourite movie quote ever…

Well that’s an impossible task now isn’t it? Asking a movie-boff to pick ONE favourite movie quote is like asking a mother to chose a favourite child. So instead, I’ve chosen my top five, what are yours?

5. “Thank God for Rednecks” – Tallahassee, Zombieland (2009)

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4. ” If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy furniture and give the cat a name.” – Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

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3. “Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you” -Dennis, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

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2.  “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… And then you see it…White shores… and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.” – Gandalf, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

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1. “Why do you keep using that word? I do not think it means what you think it means” – Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride (1987)

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Thursday Throwback

I absolutely adore this song off the Juno movie soundtrack. It’s a beautiful love story of potentials, what could happen if said girl meets wooing boy at the statue in an hour. It reminds me very much of The Shins Pink Bullets (which is actually my favorite song of all time, if I had to just pick one). It is the oh-so-wistful Piazza New York catcher from the Glasgow based, Beetles-sounding indie pop group Belle and Sebastian (sadly for some reason they never made an official music video).